Rewriting the universe since 1986

Expandmenu Shrunk


  • Tag Archives memories
  • A Birthday and a Time Capsule

    Ten years ago, a 16-year-old me decided to put together a time capsule.

    Time Capsule

    I held on to it all this time, through five moves, and never lost or got rid of it. For ten years, I never opened it, though the stickers sealing it closed had peeled away from the box within the first year, clinging only to the lid. It was important to 16-year-old me, so I did as I promised her: I neither lost it nor peeked at it.

    Today, 26-year-old me opened the box, and this is what came out:

    Time Capsule: Opened!

    It was incredible to see what I’d thought was important enough to put away, and to realize that the one thing I thought I remembered putting in there wasn’t in there at all. (Apparently I’d changed my mind about the Teepee-shaped clay incense burner.)

    There were, of course, a few trinkets:

    Trinkets

    I’ve had that ‘E’ for as long as I can remember. When I put it in that box, it stood for ‘Emily’. Now, of course, it stands for ‘Eric’, though I couldn’t have known that then.

    All I really remember about that elephant is that it was very important to me. As for where it came from or who gave it to me, I have no idea any more.

    I made the little beaded sandal and ball, which means this was after I’d left Girl Guides for Junior Achievement.

    My love of pens and ink even then should have been an indication that I would become a writer, but I was still convinced that I would be an Artist; painting, drawing, or something visual were the only options I saw for myself back then.

    In fact, I’d left a small sketch book of mine to prove it:

    Two Houses and a Tree
    An Animated Still Life
    A Celtic Knot Griffin

    There were several more, of course, but that would have been far too many for one post. I’d wondered where some of these had gotten to, actually. I knew I had drawn more Celtic knot pictures than I could find in my portfolios!

    A few other creations of mine made it into the time capsule:

    Tissue Paper Flowers and Calligraphy

    Again, how did I not know I was a writer? The ‘E’, of course, stood for myself. I’m not sure if the ‘A’ was just because it was the first letter of the alphabet, or if it stood for someone else… and I’m hesitant to speculate as that could embarrass a few people.

    I’d actually forgotten that I used to make tissue-paper flowers, which is a bit impressive since I used to make a lot of them.

    And finally, I’d included a picture of myself:

    Emily

    I had a hard time deciding how to title this one, actually. I was still her, in a way, but there’s a good reason a lot of these reflections include the words: ‘I’d forgotten’ or ‘I don’t remember’. I was 16. That’s a hard age for anyone, but I had the extra confusion of suspecting that puberty wasn’t going the way I expected, but having no idea why that was or how to express that feeling. I checked out a bit, emotionally. I dealt with it by not dealing with it–or much of anything else.

    In the end though, if I were to go back ten years and ask myself my name, I would have responded, “Emily.” As such, this is, in fact, a picture of her.

    After looking back, it’s time for me to look forward. I will make another time capsule (but this time I’ll include a letter so I know what I was thinking) and look ahead at the next ten years. Here’s to the 36-year-old me, whoever he may be!



  • It’s Not Bragging If It’s A Short Story

    I brought it on myself really. There’s no denying it. After all, I’m the one who chose the number for the latest writing challenge sent out by Danni… how was I to know that it would turn out to be so, well, challenging?

    Here’s what I apparently chose:

    “A Twist of Truth”

    Tell us a story from your past.

    THE RULES:

    1) It must be a true story, but it can be any story that you want to tell.
    2) It does not have to be completely accurate.  Think of this more as a dramatization rather than a biography.
    3) The story cannot be from your POV.  In other words, it’s your memory, and your story, but it should be from the POV of someone else who was there.  (This could even be the family pet, if you’d like)

    Ignoring–or perhaps allowing for–the fact that rule 2 offers some leniency, I’m faced with a dilemma. In any story of mine with actual conflict told from the other persons point of view I either a) come off as looking like a terrible person, b) look like I’m trying to be sensationalist, or c) both. A corollary to b is that I’m afraid that anything interesting about me will come off as trying to make a political point somehow.

    If I’m completely honest with myself, I’m a little afraid of the soul-bearing involved in this. That sounds weird coming from me, I know. After all, I tweet and blog pretty freely about my trans experience, my ADHD, and to some extent even my faith(though I still hold back there sometimes for fear of being too ‘evangelical’.) On top of that, my short story for the previous exercise was nothing if not a morality story that pretty much came down to ‘good Christians don’t throw their kids out of the house for being trans*’ and Fallen Things is nothing if not my soul refracted into a multitude of characters. I have no issues sharing these with the group, so why am I so hesitant now?

    Partly, revealing myself through my characters is safe because it’s not ‘really me’. I can hide myself in the bit that are pure invention. And on the other side, revealing myself through my own perspective is authentic. I know how I feel or think I feel about the things I’ve experienced and the things I’ve done, but I can’t be certain how others perceived me in the same event. I’m terrified enough of getting my sister ‘wrong’ that I won’t even give a character her name. Actually, most close friends and family are off limits for names, for just about the same reason. I don’t want to get into their minds and get it ‘wrong’.

    All of this of course just underlines why I have to write this. If it makes me uncomfortable, that’s just one more emotion to tap into for my writing. It’s one more thing I need to face so I can grow in my craft, and thus become a stronger writer. I may have to drag myself through this story kicking and screaming, but I will do it.

    Is this something you’d have trouble with too, or would you have no problem with it? What other sorts of topic or situations are challenging for you to write? Don’t be shy, tells us all about it in the comments.



  • Happy Second T-Day!

    It has been two years today since I started stabbing myself in the leg, and a year since I started this website. It has also been a year of incredible change and growth; in fact, I’m beginning to wonder if there is any other kind.

    I’ll start at the end for the moment, and note that I seem to be collecting milestones for February 26th. Two years ago I started on testosterone, a year ago I started this blog, and today I became a full, adult member of Campbell-Stone United Church. I was baptised into this church when I was 16 I believe, and I’ve been something of a member-by-association through my mom since I returned to the church during Advent in 2010, but I felt that it was time to stand up and become a member in my own right.

    Becoming a member is an incredible experience. Standing up in front of the congregation to proclaim my faith and commitment to the church, and having them give me their acceptance and support… I felt a very really connection in that moment. It’s one of the many steps in my life bringing me closer to God, and confirming for me that I am on my right path. This is where I belong.

    Not only have I grown a lot in my faith journey, but I’ve also grown a lot as a writer and as a person. I’m invested in my writing more strongly than ever as I put my first novel, Fallen Things, through the ‘critique machine’ with my writing group, A Bitch Of Writers. I have learned so much about my writing process and how to give a good critique, it’s incredible! I can already see the difference it’s made as I edit based on these critiques; I have description now! Mostly. It’s also been brought to my attention that some of my writing technique it well-geared towards script writing, so in my over-scheduled insanity, I’ve decided to do Script Frenzy this April. That should be interesting to say the least.

    I’ve also had to take a long, hard look at my direction in life. Having a better idea of who I am and where I want to go means I’m a lot less satisfied with ‘survival jobs’ in retail or labour while I work on my writing and look at paying off previous student loans before going to school again. Right now I’m working through Alberta Job Corps to try to find something interesting that I’m even marginally qualified for. It’s been a good, if frustrating, experience for me. While I’m glad to have the support while I work out my career path, it’s also a little disheartening to still be there over a month later while most of my hire-mates have moved on and a new batch of hires is coming into the system. Still, I’ve gained valuable job search skills, and am going full-ahead with a new strategy starting tomorrow.

    Last but not least, after two years on T my transition have become more of a background concern… for the most part. Twice in the past year drug shortages have affected my ability to fill my prescription. The first time I was lucky and only had a delay of one week before my pharmacy started getting Delatestyl in again. This time however, I’ve had to switch to AndroGel for the time being, or do without entirely. Word on the street is that Depo-Testosterone, which would be a preferable alternative for me, will be available February 29th… or possibly March 7th (see comments.) All in all, it’s hard to find reliable information on this.

    But enough of that doom and gloom. It’s time for progress photos!

    Woah, who's that kid?

    Me two years ago… I think the only thing that’s really the same any more is my glasses. And I can’t help thinking how round my head was…

    Bow ties are cool.

    Yep, bow ties are still cool. At this point, I was just starting to get enough scruff on my chin to contemplate growing a beard. In fact, I think I did start growing one shortly after this picture was taken. I was still holding onto the earrings, though…

    Suave as ever

    I… always seem to need a haircut when I do these, don’t I? In fact, not much has changed between this picture and the last. The only real difference is that I’ve taken out the earrings and grown a beard. It would feel incredibly weird now not to have a beard. I know; I shaved it off briefly around Hallowe’en for my Tesla costume, and quite frankly, my chin felt naked.

    So that’s my Year In Review, and there’s still a lot I didn’t really get around to mentioning. I’ve been busy, very busy, and if things keep going the way they are, this next year will be even busier. I’m looking forward to it.



  • 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!



  • Work-Life Balance and the Holidays

    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:

    At the abandoned carbide factory in Gatineau Park.
    Dad and Step-Mom, Shawna, on Christmas Eve.
    Step-Sister, Collette, decorating the tree on Christmas Eve.
    Sasha, Collette's university room mate, putting the finishing touch on the tree.
    Collette, Shawna, and Sasha with Irish coffees on Christmas morning.
    Obligatory while-taking-a-photo photo.


  • Life, The Universe, and Douglas Adams

    Long before I discovered Neil Gaiman, before Ray Bradbury even, there was Douglas Adams.

    I remember when I was a child, my mom would take us to the library. I remember the brightly coloured covers, the way four books could be combined, like a puzzle, to complete the pictures. I remember sitting with her as she read to me from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

    I also remember at one point looking up at her and saying that when I grew up, I wanted to be drunk like Ford Prefect and Zaphod Beeblebrox, but what did I know? He made it sound really fun. My mom of course, claims not to remember me saying this at all.

    The point is, I grew up with Douglas Adams as a huge influence in my life. Not only did I read the whole five part trilogy and try my hand at the computer game, my dad taped the BBC mini-series for me (this was in the days before PVR’s, people. Before DVD’s, even!) Between the questionable quality of the cassette tape and the pathetic budget at the BBC at the time, it was grainy and the picture wavered at times, but it was magic to me. Looking back, I think that was part of its charm.

    I also read Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, and later, The Salmon of Doubt. The last is always a bitter-sweet book for me since before reading it, I don’t think I even knew he had died.

    Is it possible to mourn a man you’ve never met? Absolutely. Through his books, the commentaries, prefaces and posthumous rememberings within, I feel that I know him. I know his humour, and something of his insecurities. I know his process, something he talked about at length in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: The Original Radio Scripts. I know how much he’s missed out on these last ten years.

    How much would he have loved the iPhone, the iPad, and all the rest that Apple has put out? He was a devout Mac person, and the fact that he missed the launch of the iPod by less than a year is tragic. In 1999 he talked about the future of the internet and information technologies. How wonderful would it have been from him to see it today? Can you imagine him on Twitter? I can only think that he would have been in heaven.

    He was a man made for this era, a man who would understand and appreciate the way the internet has shaped the world. In his time, he got to see the first glimmers of dawn, and it saddens me that he could not walk with us into the morning. I admire him, and while he left us many wonders, I miss him.

    Douglas Adams, wherever you are, may you always know where your towel is.



  • Queer Boy Archival Revival: In The Beginning…

    Originally posted to Queer Boy Blogging on February 6, 2010

    Man, when I was young I shoved my ignorance in people’s faces. They beat me with sticks. By the time I was forty my blunt instrument had been honed to a fine cutting point for me. If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you’ll never learn.

    ~Faber, Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

    When I decided that I wanted to write a blog, I knew that I wanted it to be a place where I could examine my views and ideas, a place where I could define and refine them.  I spent a while mulling this over, and the above quote kept coming back to me.  It absolutely describes what it is I intend to do here.  Right now, I am a young man.  I have thus far been doing myself a disservice by keeping myself on the sidelines of discussion, and never showing my ignorance.  How am I to learn if I don’t know what it is that I don’t know?  Also, by the magic of the internet, I can promote discussions to expand the minds of others in the same way.

    In particular, I want to take an uncommon stand on today’s issues, particularly those which impact myself and my community.  I want to examine the concept of privilege, rights and community activism. I want to understand what people are doing in these areas, why they are doing it, and if in the end it’s doing any good. I also want to understand and solidify my own views on these issues, how it effects both myself and my interactions, as well as what I need to work on in order to become a better person, and what will lead to actual positive effects. I want to see where sensitivity to a cause becomes over-sensitivity and reactionary behaviour.

    I want to try to take an outside perspective on a community that I am a part of.  This means equally the queer community, the trans community, and to a certain extent the art community, because art is one of the many ways we influence opinion.  I also want to look at community efforts on a larger scale and look at the fine line between a need for better protection and the sense of entitlement rampant in contemporary society.

    This is an open invitation to participate!  Learn, discuss, tell me where I’m wrong and why.  Hopefully, we will both learn from this experience.

    * * *

    Looking back at my first post at Queer Boy Blogging, it’s interesting to see how much of this is still true for me. I’m still dedicated to the idea of putting myself out there to see where I’m right, where I’m wrong, and where my ideas just need a little refinement. I would rather learn than to be right at any cost.

    What has changed is my focus, the specific areas I want to explore. Honestly, my interest in community activism has never been that consistent, though I still feel that education is the most important part of any issue. So I go where my interests take me, through worlds of writing, of art, through my own mind and all the comorbidities within. I’m still going to blather on about things I know very little about, but I’m doing it with a mind open to being challenged.



  • A Picture is Worth…

    I found an old picture of us the other day. You and I are sitting together on top of the picnic table, Dragon standing beside me, Smudge sitting on the bench in front of you. Green pines on green hills stand behind us. Look at us! Smiling coyly, I’m doing all I can to seem cute and feminine, while you’re still trying to hide that part of you, even if only a little.

    I remember that day down by the river, a day out with friends. They threaten to dunk us in the cold water, and we laugh even as we protest. Do they succeed? That I don’t remember. I just remember the friendship, the fun, and an undertone of desperation. This is the last summer the four of us will spend together. You and I will last a little longer, though not by much. We are young and uncertain, you and I more so than most at this age. Some of who you will be you know already, but I’m still lost. I’m still trying hard not to know myself.

    You’re wearing the ring I gave you. Simple, delicate, and set with a diamond, it’s a misguided pledge to love you forever, whoever you may be. In the fevered ache of first love, I forget that I will change, too. I forget that I may not be who you need, and trying to be that person will rip a hole in me. I say I forget, because I know that even as I gave you the ring I realized my mistake. I’m not ready to take back the pledge. I won’t make you give back the ring.

    I love you. Now, by the river with our friends, and now, years later as I remember. I love you even though you were no good for me in the end, and I would be even worse for you now. I love you and I miss you, my sweetest memory.