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  • Grab-Bag Week

    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.

  • Where I’ve Been, and Where I’m Going

    I may be a little late to the New Year party, but I still think this is the ideal time for a look back at what’s happened in 2011–especially during those months of silence on this blog–and to look forward to what I have planned for 2012: The Year Where Things Happen.

    A lot happened for me last year. My career and employment prospects went up and down like a mad rollercoaser; my trans history began to be just that, a history, rather than a daily struggle; writing became central to my life, giving my a greater drive and purpose; I began to face and manage my ADHD which brought focus to my drive.

    I also found God, or maybe He found me. Either way, I’ve been delving into my theology like never before, finding that if I can ignore the vocal factions of fundamentalist bigots calling themselves Christians, there’s actually a solid and powerful message of acceptance in the faith itself. It’s made me question my beliefs about a lot of things, but rather than changing my values, it’s strengthened those I already held dear, principally: love each other.

    2011 was a year of discovery, a year of finding out who I am and what I want to do with my life. 2012 will be a year of action. It will be the year where I put myself out there and Make Things Happen.

    I’ve been working on my novel, Fallen Things, for over a year now. In the next few months I’ll be putting on a final push to polish it up and get it out the door. It’s being cranked through the Critique Machine with my group, A Bitch Of Writers. And if you’ll take a peek at my friend Danni’s blog, you’ll notice a little counter on the side bar. I’m participating in her Epic Year of Querying, and therefore have no choice but to get Fallen Things out to agents.

    I’m also putting together a portfolio on this site, showcasing my cartography and graphic design work. I’ll be adding to it over the next few weeks, but until then you can check out the land of Felsirq.

    Also in the next week or so, I’ll release the details of an experimental publishing project that’s just waiting to be funded and developed. If this goes well, and I have every intention that it will, I’ll be able to devote more time to my creative aspirations, and write a book in a way I’ve never written, or seen a book written, before.

    2012 is the year to take risks, make mistakes, and create something glorious along the way. I plan to do all of the above, and lucky you, you get a front row seat to it all.

    Any grand plans for 2012? Who else is jumping in feet first, and damn the torpedoes? The year is young; let us bask in the glow of optimism and Make Things Happen!

  • Crossed Wires and Verbal Scheduling

    I am having so many issues in this area, it’s not even funny. Having all these miscommunications come to light on the same day? I’m not sure if that’s a blessing (because I could get them all dealt with at once) or a curse.

    Some days I don’t know why my mom even has a cell phone, but that’s not the whole issue. The larger part of it is that the two of us have the most anti-social telephone habits when it comes to talking to each other that is only exacerbated by cell service that is, to put it lightly, shoddy. Here’s how it typically goes: she calls my phone and leaves me a voicemail because for some reason, calls from her phone to mine don’t go through (she’s no the only one who can’t call me; I’ve had this issue more than a few times.) I listen to said voicemail, but because I a) don’t like calling anyone at the best of times and b) am probably doing something else with friends, I send her a text message in return. For whatever reason, she is able to receive my texts, but I can’t receive hers (I don’t have this issue with anyone else) so I don’t expect a reply.

    So, Saturday night she left a message saying that she’ll be heading to church early, so if I’m getting a ride I should be at the station early. I sent back a text saying I’d be there, and left it at that. Sunday morning I was running a bit late, but thought nothing of it since I told her I’d be there. After about 15 minutes, I started to worry about where she was. I called her cell, but not only did I get no answer, I got a ‘customer unavailable’ message. Ok, no big deal, it could be that she was running late, too. Around the half hour mark, I tried again. Same result.

    About twenty minutes before the service was going to start, she still hadn’t shown up. What I did have however, was a bus headed in the right direction. Giving up on the ride, I took the bus to church instead.

    It turns out that my mom’s phone had died the day before, and she’d left her charger at work. She didn’t get my message. When she didn’t see me waiting, she thought I had decided not to go this week, and went ahead on her own. This also explains why I couldn’t get a hold of her on her phone to ask, “Um, where the hell are you?” So much for that system.

    Later that day, my sister had joined us and we were having a nice, relatively drama-free family dinner. When my mom asked me, “Do you need a ride to Edmonton this weekend?” my response was, “There’s something happening this weekend?”

    It was my grandma’s birthday, as it turns out. Everyone swore that not only had I been told about this, but that I had written it down. I swore that I had no idea what they were talking about. Looking at my phone confirmed both our stories: I had Grandma’s birth date marked, falling in the middle of the week I might add, but not the birthday celebration that everyone was talking about. So maybe I had been told. I just hadn’t parsed the right part of the information. After a certain amount of ranting(whining) and charging my family members to check what I’m putting in my phone next time we’re scheduling something like this, I made travel arrangements with my mom (and made sure I got it all down properly.)

    Not that I’m the only one not parsing all this verbal scheduling; my sister swears I didn’t tell her I wanted to go to her convocation while I’m certain that yes, in fact, I did. Come to think of it, I should probably make sure we’re still on the same page there, shouldn’t I?

  • Trans, ADHD, And Accessing Employment Services

    Well. That was an interesting day. The kind of day that really drives home why I was so reluctant to apply for any kind of assistance before now. Unfortunately, I need some kind of gainful employment, or the next best thing, and doing it on my own hasn’t been working. So.

    Off I go to the Alberta Employment and Immigration office. I don’t know exactly what I need, except that I need help. I’d gotten a form to fill out when I was there Friday, but other than that and a handful of mostly contradictory ID, I’m unprepared. I think I know what I want to say, but most of what I say comes out of my mouth too fast and in the wrong order. I’m easily confused, and I’m not sure I know what’s going on. But I concentrate, and read things over twice, three times if I need to. Remember, breathe.

    One of the things I’m applying for is Income Support. Since it’s a provincial service, I happily fill everything out as Eric, confident that this is, in fact, my legal name. There’s a certificate to prove it and everything! Then the worker tells me that they need to know it I qualify for Employment Insurance before we can go ahead with the IS application. I just have to go across the hall to Service Canada and ask. Easy, right?

    Well, this is where being trans intersects with being ADHD to great effect. Remember how I was filling everything out as Eric? Well, that all well and good for provincial stuff, but as far as the federal level is concerned, my old identity is still in effect. I don’t even want to know how this will affect my applications across the hall; it’s bad enough typing in the name still attached to my Social Insurance Number. Worst part? I’m still too agitated and confused to properly explain to the lady helping me (read: practically filling out the form for me) what my problem is, and most of my corroborating ID is back across the hall. At this point, I can only hope that the information I provided is someone’s version of correct and that I won’t be locked up for fraud.  I’m probably overreacting, but I can’t help it.

    Back across the hall in Alberta, I have a slightly easier time explaining myself. She gives not only gives me information for employment services I can use, but also legal guidance so I can get some advice on this whole identity thing. By now I have all my forms and whatnot together to take to the third floor where the actual application process happens. Ok. After a quick detour to the coffee shop on the corner for a desperately needed Earl Grey, I’m upstairs, ready to fill everything in and get this process started.

    Well, not quite. I’m still missing my banking information.

    A trip home to grab a blank cheque and print up some bank statements, and a second Earl Grey later, I’m back up on the third floor. I have succeeded in replacing ‘agitated’ with ‘stoned,’ but at least I have all my information together. I go through the line, hand in my forms, and wait to be called up. With all this running around trying to get some kind of employment support, sitting in the waiting room of Alberta Works is when I get a call for a job interview.

    Of course.

    I still don’t know what’s going on, but I think it’s getting better, yeah?

  • Self-Medicating with Earl Grey Tea

    Let me just start by saying that I am not a doctor, and that really, I can only speak from my own experience here. Please don’t take my word as gospel, but if you do, I’m not responsible for the consequences, m’kay? That said, I have heard on several occasions and from multiple sources that I cannot for the life of me remember let alone cite that the stimulant caffeine can help focus the AD/HD mind.

    Hmm? Oh yes, this does make for two AD/HD post in a row, thanks for noticing. But on to the story, and eventually the point of it all.

    So today I was hanging out with my writing triumvirate consisting of four people (we’re like a Douglas Adams trilogy like that, only not really.) We had some good times, attacked Twitter together, and even managed to do some actual writing, but there was a certain lack of sleep on several fronts, and candy. I was already trying to pay attention to a million things all at once when we decided to take a trip to Staples. Let’s review: lack of sleep, sugar, over-stimulation, an office supply store, and AD/HD.

    I. Touched. Everything.

    I barely had time to register one object before my attention was captured by another one. I picked things up and read the product description from the one that was still on the shelf. I had to reassure my friend that I did hear what she’d said, I was paying attention after a fashion, and that if things work out that way, yes, I would love to.

    I was driving myself nuts.

    When we returned, I promptly, after much running around in and out of the kitchen, made myself a cup of Tea, Earl Grey, Hot. The effects of my regular meds had clearly worn off or been overridden; the sweet, steeped drug was my last hope of, well, functioning.

    And yes, it had to be the tea. I don’t know why this should be, but I’ve discovered time and time again that coffee will turn me into an over-stimulated two year old. Not at the hyper stage (I was already there,) but at the over-tired and miserable stage. A nice, strong, black tea on the other hand will focus me. It will also make me feel more than a little stoned, but hey, self-medicating isn’t an exact science.

    The point of it all is, it worked. I dialled it down to regular-person hyper as opposed to AD/HD-hyper, and I could focus long enough to read a tweet, at the very least. Yes, I did indulge in a mild outburst over my dislike of forms (trust me, that was mild; it still had an edge of humour to it,) but over all I was fit for human company, even if I still couldn’t be trusted in polite company.

    The down side to all of this is, of course, that having caffeine so late at night means I probably won’t be sleeping very well. Which is why when I got home, I made myself a fresh pot of, you guessed it, Earl Grey tea.

  • AD/HD and Self-Education

    I’m a pretty out guy about most things. I’m out about being queer, I’m out about being trans, and I’m out about my writing and my bow tie addiction. One thing I’ve been conspicuously silent on is my AD/HD.

    Part of it is that despite having ‘known’ for most of my life and getting an official diagnosis in 2004, I really don’t know all that much about it. I have a basic understanding of how Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder affects my life, and I know that a low dose of Concerta helps mitigate my distractability without damaging my personality and creativity, but that’s about it. My coping mechanisms are hit and miss; I’m flying blind.

    With all the rest, I took the initiative to go searching for information about myself. I dove into transgender and transsexual research and gender theory to the point that I now know more about what’s happening to my body on T than my doctor does. I pore over every writer’s blog and piece of industry information I can find. I even looked up how to tie a bow tie. The point is, with each of these things I went out of my way to educated myself. AD/HD, I’ve mostly ignored.

    Ironically, one of the things I do know about my AD/HD is that self-education works better than trying to learn in a traditional school environment. When I’m truly passionate about a subject, I can happily spend hours doing research that would be pulling teeth otherwise. Maybe the problem is that I was accustomed to the idea that yes, I have AD/HD but we’re not supposed to do anything about it, but it’s taken me a long time to realise that I want to know more. I want to know what I’m dealing with so that I can actually, well, deal with it. It’s time for me to educate myself, help myself, and work towards the things that really matter to me.