Every once in a while, I just feel this need to stay up all the night whatever the consequence for the next day. It’s like a reset or an emotional cleanse where I can work out all the less lucid energy that seems to build up in the mean time. Mostly, this ‘reset’ happens on a full moon, or at least within a day of it.
This is one of those full moons.
It starts with a restlessness, and a sense of being dog-tired while at the same time feeling no desire whatsoever to actually go to bed and sleep. There’s a feeling that there are things to do, and they must be done now.
Things like critiques for my critique group, A Bitch Of Writers, or writing that short story or sermon. Things like reading this book, or that one, or doing a bit of laundry if only there weren’t someone trying to sleep upstairs. Things like setting up the bookshelf, though I’d want to rearrange the whole living room first and there’s so much that needs tidying… I’m sure you get the picture.
And so I’m here with a pot of oatmeal before me, Earl Grey tea at my elbow, and The Cars playing on YouTube because that’s apparently ‘Just What I Needed’. With any luck, I’ll be able to make this productive insomnia.
Does this ever happen to you? Do you ever fight it and try to sleep, or just go with it?
This has really just been One Of Those Weeks so rather than posting on a single topic, I’m giving you all a whole bunch of topics. Aren’t you lucky? And now, in no particular order:
Standing Up For Yourself
I haven’t always had the greatest track record in this area. Most days I’d rather let something slide than risk conflict or risk losing/not getting a service I need. This time however, I realized I needed to take a stand.
Those of you on Twitter may have noticed me mention ‘awkward questions about my genitals’. Without going into too much detail, during the interview for an unrelated psych evaluation, the psychologist got overly curious about my trans history, to the point that I felt uncomfortable. I decided I needed to let him know how I felt about it, so I wrote him a letter. I kept it calm and reasonable, using ‘I feel’ language rather than accusatory, even if part of me wanted to call him an insensitive idiot, and other invectives along those lines. I also included some of the ‘what is trans*’ resources I received at the gender clinic, because I think it’s important to educate where I can, whatever the topic.
And you know what? I think it worked. I got a call from him thanking me for the feedback and the articles, and apologizing for putting me in that position. Does that make what he did all right? No. Did his apology wipe the slate clean and repair my trust? No. But now he knows and can do better next time, and I have closure and have taken away his ability to hurt me. (This, by the way, is what forgiveness is really about. Letting go of the hurt someone else has caused, not ignoring the hurt and letting them hurt you again.)
All The Fun Jobs Require A Degree
Brain-mush and inappropriate questions aside, I actually enjoy psych evaluations. I love seeing what’s going on in my brain (and I kind of feel like it’s a licence to show off.) So I asked one of the ladies administering the tests how I could get a job doing that, and the answer was pretty much: “You need a degree.” This is pretty much true for everything I would like to do. Librarian? Need a degree. Minister? Need a degree. Even Graphic Designer; for anything in-house you’re better off with a degree. All of this pretty much leaves me with the question of how do I afford going back to school? Because one way or another, I’ll be going back.
AndroGel Is Not A Good Long-Term Substitute For Delatestryl
This may not be true for everyone of course, but for me it’s no contest. Delatestryl is an injection every two weeks that is effective, inexpensive, and covered under my insurance. AndroGel is a daily topical gel that is ineffective for me, can be transferred to others if I’m not careful, is expensive, and is, of course, not covered by my insurance. Granted, it might be more effective at full dose, but since I can’t really afford the starting dose as it is? Yeah. Unfortunately, I have very few options right now, since Delatestryl and all other injectable testosterone compounds are currently unavailable in Canada due to manufacturer shortage.
In Spite Of It All, I’m On The Right Path
One thing I have gotten out of this is yet another confirmation that I am headed in the right direction for me. Yesterday, even after all the awkward questions, my first genuine smile of the day was when I talked about my experience guest preaching at my church. Remembering how it felt to look at the text, to find the message in it, and to share it with others… it was amazing. Just the memory of that connection cut through all the crap of that day and reminded me of the most important thing: this is what I’m meant to do. This is my path. As crazy as it sounds, this queer trans boy is going to be a Christian minister. And I feel good about it.
So, this week I got hit with a cold. Still being hit with it actually, which is why I’m at home blogging and not wrapping up Youth Church right now. While I’m here, I thought I’d give you all a breakdown of the week that brought me here in the form of easy to follow, step-by-step instructions.
Tuesday: You start feeling poorly, but it’s nothing you can’t handle. Besides, it’s poker night! You can’t miss poker night! You’ve tried. They wouldn’t let you. And you can’t let anyone else miss it either, so you really really have to be there! So you hang out in a Tim Hortons for two hours after work (only noticing the ’20 minute time limit’ sign you’ve been sitting under as you get up to leave) and grab some cough syrup on the way to meet everyone so you don’t end up coughing on all your friends. Easy.
Wednesday: Get up bright and early, get dressed and polished because you have a résumé to drop off and you want to make a good impression. Make sure everything’s sorted out with your worker, print off the best copy of your résumé, and head out. Pick up some mint flavoured cough drops on the way so you can speak and make a good impression at the mini-interview. Ace it.
Realize that it’s Wednesday, another friends evening that you can’t miss. Find out that for some reason we’re making pancakes tonight rather than ordering pizza, so you have to go out and get some buttermilk and no sugar added jam. Pick up some honey for your tea while you’re at it. Have a good time with friends and a surprise visit from your sister, help out by proof-reading a letter, and collapse into bed far later than you intended to.
Thursday: Drag yourself out of bed and go to work. Have absolutely no energy or voice for the interview workshop, but muscle through it anyway. You’re learning good things, and you have plenty of cough drops, right? At the end of the day, decide that maybe you shouldn’t go to that thing at the book store after all. Stay home watching My Little Pony, and collapse into bed at 8pm without writing a blog post like you meant to.
Friday: Drag yourself out of bed and go to work again. Spend the morning drained. Have several people tell you that you don’t look so good. Take a look in the mirror and realize that they’re right. At lunch, decided that maybe you should go home after all.
Go home, watch even more My Little Pony. Try to work on critiques and stay up for #FNTWP (Friday Night Twitter Writer Party) but collapse into bed at 7:30 instead. Turn off your alarm because clearly you’re going to sleep as long as you need to.
Saturday: Wake up possibly twelve hours later, maybe more. Who knows. Decide that you need food, but don’t want anything in the house. You’re not feeling that bad now, so maybe going to Smitty’s would be a good idea. Three hours later, leave the house. Arrive at the restaurant half-dead, order and eat. Get an email asking if you can put together a lesson plan for Youth Church tomorrow. You’re really tempted to say, ‘Sure! No problem!’ but you remember that episode where Apple Jack tried to do everything herself and made a mess of things, so you reluctantly let them know you can’t. Grab a bag of oranges and some lemon and ginger tea on the way home.
Sunday: Vow not to leave the house this time until you’re actually feeling better, and pray that this will happen before the official interview. Wish that you’d thought to pick up some cans of soup last time you were out of the house.
One way or another, food has been on my mind a lot this past month. The reality-hammer hit me in the face pretty early on when I came face-to-face with being broke, out of work, and having to wait until the 25th before getting any sort of income support.
Strangely, coming down with a cold right around the New Year made the first week a lot easier in some ways. I didn’t have much of an appetite, so I could ignore the food question for a while. My aunt gave me some leftovers from New Year’s day dinner (which I froze to avoid spoilage while I worked on getting my appetite back,) so that fuelled the next week or so quite nicely, especially when the roast beef became soup. I had to scape the bottom of my spare change jar for the vegetables I needed, but I made it. All I can say is thank God for self-checkouts. It was bad enough feeling like I was feeding pennies into some mad vending machine; I would have been mortified having to stand there counting them out for the cashier.
After that, I had to start playing with whatever staples I had on hand. This meant finding out what I could do with pizza dough, because I couldn’t afford the milk for bread dough. And again, thank God my mom left me with a freezer full of ground beef. Having meat on hand has been an absolute life saver. Outside of some meals subsidized by friends, I’ve been subsisting on whatever I could throw together from the staples in my kitchen.
Now, I’m in a work experience/employment program, which means I’m that much closer to being properly employed again. I also got my support check yesterday, and after taking care of some necessary bills, I splurged. I went to Smitty’s for dinner today and got myself properly gorged. It felt so good, and so indulgent, and it was such a relief to be able to treat myself like that.
Words cannot describe how grateful I am. Grateful for the ability to cook, grateful for the staples already in my kitchen, and grateful for the people in my life who have helped me out during this rough patch. But most of all I’m grateful that I’m coming into the up-swing. Not everyone is that lucky.
I used to say, “I’ll burn that bridge when I come to it.” I found it amusing, and it sounded to much more exciting than simply finding a bridge and crossing it. It was also destructive and defeatist, which was probably part of the appeal.
Lately I’ve found myself saying, “I’ll build that bridge.” It’s still a lot more exciting than just crossing a bridge, but otherwise it’s a complete reversal of attitude.
From an attitude of destruction, to one of construction. It takes considerably more work to build something than to burn it down, not to mention more time and more planning. Building a bridge means finding a way to get from where I am to where I’m going. It’s a vital part of creating a new path.
And it’s time for me to live up to these words.
As I’ve said, 2012 will be a year of action, a year of Making Things Happen. The ball is already rolling on a few of these things, but the pay off doesn’t happen right away. The first potential rewards are months away and across a chasm left by a sudden drought of jobs at the temp agency. In some respects it looks impassable, but I will get to the other side. I just need to build myself a bridge.
So while I get everything in place for my Big Plans, I’m also working on a day job, or a reasonable facsimile thereof. I spent the whole of yesterday downtown. Some of the day was spent running around on errands, but most of it was spent waiting to see someone at the employment office and getting in touch with services that can help. And it paid off. Tomorrow I have an interview at a paid work training program. This will be the foundation for my bridge. From here, all I have to do it build it, and cross it.
Wow, but it’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog, hasn’t it? Apparently I haven’t been doing so well on the work-life balance thing lately, but I’m back, and ready to rock this cyber party! And what better way to do this than to celebrate the various joys and challenges of family visits over the Christmas holidays.
Since my parents split up and my Dad moved to Ottawa oh, twelve years ago, I’ve spent most Christmases with my Mom and her side of the family at my Grandma’s house in Edmonton. These were usually squeezed in around my school or retail schedule, with many a drive up from Calgary in the dark on Christmas Eve. This year however, I decided to do something different. I decided that it was high time I visit my Dad.
Between a far more flexible work schedule in construction and a desire to make the most of my trip across the country, I figured two weeks would be ideal. Not only that, but I could keep working on my writing and graphics work at the same time, so there was no reason for that part of my life to slow down, right?
Apparently visiting people actually takes time out of the day. If I actually want to talk to people, catch up on everything and enjoy each other’s company, I can’t go straight from my bed to my computer, work for a few hours and emerge some time in the early afternoon like I can at home. Who knew?
On the other hand, it turns out there’s only so long I can ignore my work before going completely batty. As much as I want to visit and do and explore, two weeks solid would be too much. Even running at about half the pace my Step-Mom has tried to set in terms of hikes, ski-trips and museums, at a week and a half I’m ready to crawl into the computer and hide from direct human contact for a while. It’s been good, every minute has been a joy, but I’m exhausted. I need some work time so I can recover from my vacation.
On the whole however, I think the balance has been pretty good. I had to shift some priorities, but I got my visiting in, my critiques done for my critique group and even managed to meet up with said group over Skype, I got some mock-ups sent to a graphic design client, and made some tourist-y excursions in the area to round it all out. When I fly back home, I expect it will be with a mix of relief at returning to a familiar setting and routine, and sadness at leaving loved ones behind once more.
I’m excited to get the momentum going on my work again, to put plans and ideas that have been gestating these past few months into action. I’m ready to face the New Year with verve and vigour, to make 2012 The Year Where Things Happen. I’m ready to make my dreams a reality.
I’m ready to go home, but I’m glad for the chance to visit and to reconnect with family.
And now, because it wouldn’t be a proper holiday greeting without pictures no one else is interested in, here are some obligatory family photos:
Now that I’ve had some sleep and can think clearly, if not rationally, I can give you a more objective run-down of how the Read-A-Thon went.
Did I say I was going to do a lot of research during this thing? I lied. I only got a little bit of research done around the 1-2pm mark. I might have to try being more selective about my book choice next time, or I might just have to read more. I think I like option 2.
While I wonder if I would have gotten more done it I’d done it on my own rather than with friends, I know I wouldn’t have had as much fun. There’s something about being sleep-deprived around other sleep-deprived people that makes it so much more intense. Twice I stared up in amazement at the ceiling, and at one point I expressed my deep and abiding appreciation for bricks. I’m not sure even I knew how much I loved bricks up until that point. ‘Coherent’ was the word of the day, mostly because it was completely absent.
I still maintain that ‘editing’ is ‘reading’ because I spend most of the time reading words that have already been written. Besides which, I restructure sentences in published works while I read all the time… the only difference is that I don’t take a red pen to those one. Other than that, I spent quite a bit of time reading comics/graphic novels, depending on how you define each, or possibly when during those 24 hours you caught me. I also made what I consider to be decent head-way in our book club book, never mind that everyone else has finished it already. Apparently page 289/290 in the paperback is pretty terrible/gruesome; I can’t wait!
For those really interested in what I was reading, I’m giving you a list. In order of reading:
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. The ebook does include the wonderful illustrations by Keith Thompson, but I still plan on getting a print version, because the screen on my phone really doesn’t do them justice. The story itself I find captivating, and I can’t wait to share it with my niece!
My own work. Currently going under the working title of Daemons because there’s an awful lot of them running around in there.
The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen. I don’t know why I’ve never read a procedural like this; I love these sorts of shows on TV. Bones, Castle, Profiler… all favourites. And this one is brilliant. The problem is, great writing makes me want to write, otherwise I may have finished it already along with the rest of my book club.
The Emperor Constantine by Michael Grant. I’ve gotten some good stuff out of it so far, but I’m also coming up against a lot of new things to look up, like ‘Mithraism’. He also seems to assume I know certain historical elements which I don’t. This is not necessarily a failing on his part; I am after all delving into a period of history that is mostly foreign to my experience.
Hellblazer: Original Sins by Jamie Delano, John Ridgway, Alfredo Alcala. Because the Emperor Constantine is an obvious lead-in to John Constantine. Naturally. DC’s Vertigo imprint is my favourite for comics/graphic novels, and Constantine here is no exception. He’s my favourite kind of anti-hero, flaws exposed and acknowledged with a cheery ‘sod off.’ Knowing that a good thing can never last makes the whole thing that much sweeter.
Ezekiel 37.1-14 from The New Oxford Annotated Bible, New Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha. There’s something about Ezekiel that just grabs me by the throat and refuses to let go. When I first read this passage about the valley of bones, I realized that whether I’d known it already or not, this was the theme of my novel. Knowing that there’s something deeply wrong with the world right now, trying to find a way to get it all back together again… It’s daunting, it’s desperate, and it’s the only thing I can do.
And on that cheerful note, I give you a video of me singing Close to You as a Jägermonster. (I’m the Jägermonster of my primary triumvirate because I can do the accent, und I gots a noice hat.)
So, starting at 6am tomorrow (my 6am–your time zone may vary,) this blog is going to start getting weird. All right, weirder than usual. Let’s face it, I’m always weird. Tomorrow, I’ll be participating in the April 2011 Dewey’s Read-A-Thon, where I will stay up for 24 hours and read. That’s it. Read. And then blog about it.
When I first heard about the Read-A-Thon, I wasn’t sure if I was going to do it. Did I really have time to spend the entirety of a Saturday reading, when I could be writing or working on other things? Then I went to the library and picked up a big stack of books for research. I looked at the books, at how much reading that would be and thought, What the hell. Bring on the Read-A-Thon!
So the plan it this: at 6am I will get up and begin with what will no doubt be a delightful and cheery good morning post. I will then update that same blog post for hourly reports, unless I pass out at some point, so you will get to learn all about the Crusades and early Christian history, and whatever else I read to give my brain a bit of a break.
I will also be spending a significant part of the day at my friend Krissa’s place, reading with her and the rest of our triumvirate of four. This will give me a chance to exercise my skills of reading while walking, since I refuse to leave the house before 6am. And yes, I will be doing this in my pyjamas. There will be soup. And munchies. And lots and lots of Earl Grey tea.
So join me tomorrow in my reading adventure, as I no doubt dissolve into an incoherency rivalling that of Charlie Sheen. Tomorrow, reading becomes a spectator’s sport.
This is one of the odd things about being a writer. I am now doing something, voluntarily, that I thought I’d left behind when I left college: research.
Apparently, being a a writer means research. Apparently, I’m finding myself once again at a table in the library huddled over several large tomes, making notes and taking down page numbers. The only difference between this and any given college paper, is that no one else gave me this assignment. The whole thing is my idea. I’m beginning to think I’ve gone mad.
Don’t get me wrong. Despite never having finished, I really enjoyed college, and the day I stop learning is the day I die. It’s just that the reason I never finished was the bloody research projects. Three years in, and I was still trying to get past first year art history, but every time I went to write a new paper my brain went: bored now.
Of course, that’s the difference, isn’t it? And even when I am interested in the subject, which I almost always am anyway, I’m not necessarily interested in the format I’m expected to deliver it in. Let’s face it, I’m always going to be more interested in learning something for my own benefit than I would be in order to make the grade.
So I’m delving back into the books, going wherever my errant mind will wander. Wish me luck!
This is a serious question. I look at my word usage in any given day, and I can’t tell what era I’m in, let alone what region of the English-speaking world. I throw around ‘dude’ and ‘awesome’ with the best of them (whoever ‘they’ are,) but getting dressed today I referred to my underwear as ‘smalls’. When texting a friend, it’s not uncommon for me to say ‘what thinkest thou?’ and ‘alas!’ appears with disturbing frequency.
And this is not just in my everyday life. In a recent short story, my characters drank ‘pop’ and wore ‘trousers’ until I changed ‘trousers’ to ‘pants’ in the name of cultural consistency.
I do have a few linguistic constants, however, and these are by conscious choice. I will always favour the UK spelling of words, and set my spell check to reflect that. While I may go to see a ‘movie’ rather than a ‘film’, it doesn’t change the fact that I go to the ‘theatre’ to see it. ‘Lit’ is a word in my vocabulary, but ‘lighted’ is not, though I try not to let it colour my opinion of you if you do use it.
All I can think is that in language as in everything else, I am an anachronist, and one who invents words to describe himself at that. Do you have any idea what English I’m using? Do you have any idea what English you’re using?