Energizer Bunny for Xmas (plus a thank you)

For the last week, week and a half really, I’ve been in a bit of energizer mode. Alyssa calls it my productive phase.  We’re celebrating the holidays at home this year. For the first time in a while, and I don’t want it to feel like we’re just too poor to go somewhere like some holidays seem to feel. The sad truth is, though, that we are broke. We haven’t really been able to afford to get each other gifts for some time.

Still, I’ve been diligently working on trying to make it feel like the holidays, while also putting together little somethings for the wonderful people in our lives. And that has meant – cooking. And baking. And some crafting.

It’s been serving two purposes. At the same time that I am making a whole host of Christmas food, I’m also making a bunch of frozen meals and whatnot for future low spoon days. So far I’ve managed to freeze some Kluski (Polish Potato Dumplings) as well as some fries that just need to be popped in the fryer. All at the same time as preparing the filling for a batch of pierogi: which I haven’t really made since that time years ago when I sold them for a while and ended up making over 744 pierogi by hand.

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Energizer Bunny for Xmas (plus a thank you)

A Very Alyssa Playlist

I often think that the earliest sign of how my gender would eventually unfold was my taste in music. From the earliest I gravitated to pop music performed by women, and even as I grew older and this fondness became tinged with new feelings about the singers’ exposed skin and shapely bodies, there was something there that my male peers didn’t share. My autism aimed me at euphonious, smooth sounds and clear vocals that ruled out the harsher forms many of my peers preferred, but that wasn’t it, either. Before I knew what that meant or why, I could tell, they spoke my language. It was more than titillation, sensory needs, or aesthetics that drew me. The songs were about love and relationships and feelings, and all of them were expressed in magnificently feminine terms, and that made them real in ways that the male-led songs I gravitated toward in adolescence never managed to be.

I learned to be ashamed of this fondness, keeping it hidden. I’d gotten enough odd looks and dismissive noises to know that this was, at best, a child’s fancy best discarded, and more likely, something that contributed to the tumultuous awfulness of my adolescence. I forced myself to appreciate music led by men. I succeeded, but I never gave up on my old favorite sounds.

The future vindicated me.

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A Very Alyssa Playlist

Flamboyán Al Fin

He hoarded his Christmas gifts. We would get him cologne, ties, shirts, tchotchkes from our travels, treatments to soften his overworked hands, and they would all find their ways into drawers and cabinets, untouched for years. His clothing had to wear to nothing before he would discard it and start the next one’s slow disintegration. New, untouched things are a treasure to save for when they are needed, not an indulgence for in between. Scarcity is behind every shadow and over every hill, and a good hoard is insurance against doing without. It’s a habit my father, my grandfather, and I all share, to each other’s bemused frustration. They tangled with Communists, I grew up autistic, and we all hoard.

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Flamboyán Al Fin

Rest in Power

I spent most of yesterday grieving. As some of you may have heard, my dear friend and fellow writer on the Orbit, Niki Massey, passed away yesterday. Specific details about the cause of death are unavailable and it would be irresponsible to those who loved her to speculate.

I keep trying to find something to blame for what came as a shock to so many of us.

The disability system which makes people who are already struggling, who are already dealing with more than anyone should have to, jump through hoops to get services they need to survive. How many of us were denied the first, second, or third time around when applying for disability? It took me a year and a half. I was denied twice. I received a letter saying that they didn’t think my disability counted as something “continuous or recurring.” This despite the fact that I’ve been admitted to hospital at least twice a year since I was diagnosed. It wasn’t until faced with having to read a medical file that took stood almost 2 feet high and that spanning only the last ten years or so, that they finally conceded that maybe I had a point. I have to prove that I’m still sick after 5 years though.

I know so many people who are disabled, who are impeded from being able to work normally because of their disability, or who are slowly killing themselves trying to work while disabled and with no accommodations. So many who think they can’t apply while they work, and who can’t survive the unbelievably long period of time it takes to apply without working.

I know so many people who have been denied even though they live with constant and unimaginable pain.

We crawl over broken glass to get a measly pittance that isn’t really enough to live on. Then once we have it, we still spend more energy than is imaginable in trying to supplement that income enough to survive. Enough to be able to function.

I use up every ounce of energy I have and even more, just to be able to find the money to buy groceries, to be able to buy my medicine. Every time I go to the doctor, to deal with my increased pain they tell me I have to relax, but I can’t. I can’t. Because relaxation means I can’t eat. It means Alyssa, who is working every bit as hard as I am, doesn’t get to eat.

This is the reality we live with. And I’m the lucky one because I’ve passed the first hurdle of actually getting disability.

I want to blame our broken medical system, which treats fat people, women, black people, and mentally ill people like we’re not human. If you’re all the above then every diagnosis, every treatment, is a fight. And it’s a fight that is being undertaken when you are already wounded, already bleeding, already exhausted. It’s a fight with the deck stacked against you from the beginning.

I want to blame the systemic racism and ableism that not only contributes to the first two issues but makes it dangerous just to exist. I read somewhere that something like 1 in 2 of those people killed by police are disabled. We already know that being black can be a capital offence in the eyes of the police who have no problem with committing murder. Who don’t even see it as murder because that would mean having to admit that black people are human beings who matter. That black lives matter. Imagine being a disabled black woman in that environment. Imagine living with the fear that being stopped by police, that having the police called on you, whether out of malice or out of ill-conceived concern, could mean your death.

Despite all of these pressures, despite living with chronic pain and having to cope with low energy, despite all of that Niki stood up and fought for what is right.

Her writing served as an education for more than one of us. Her words, at times angry, at times sad, at times sarcastic, at times even happy or excited, they will live on. Not just on the page, but in the hearts, minds, and actions of those people who she taught how to be better. We will all strive to live up to the faith that she had in us. Because even when her words were brought on by despair, the simple act of sharing them means that she DID have faith in us. Faith that we could do better. That we could BE better. That we could change the world.

She stood up for people who needed abortions. She was a clinic escort and encouraged others to do the same. She believed in reproductive justice. She believed in holding sexual harassers and abusers and rapists accountable for their actions.

Niki Massey is gone, and my heart and that of many people bleeds because of it. She will be missed but she will not be forgotten. May she rest in power among the stars and may her words echo for eternity. We love you Niki.



Rest in Power

Folding Laundry in the Elevator

There are many incidents that remind me of my mental difference, the divergence in my neurology that makes “normal” people a ceaseless, discomfiting puzzle. One stands out in my memory, though, for the sheer spectacle of that difference: the time I was stuck in an elevator for the better part of an afternoon.

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Folding Laundry in the Elevator

Wherein I Catfish an Irish Chaser Named Niall Corbally

I don’t often check my “filtered messages” on Facebook. I don’t get many, and by the time I get around to remembering the secret extra inboxes Facebook helpfully uses as a preemptive trash bin, many of the people messaging me there have already had their accounts disabled on account of being spambots. It’s a short queue of “Facebook User” interspersed with men from overseas asking outrageous things of me.

Which brings me to Niall Corbally, the drift-race enthusiast and proud Tweeter who decided that messaging overseas trans lesbians to get them to perform sexual violence upon his gonads was a good use of his time. This is the message he sent me at the beginning of the month, that I found earlier today:

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Wherein I Catfish an Irish Chaser Named Niall Corbally

Peridot: A Tiny Angry Slice of Pie

CN: Spoilers for Newer Episodes of Steven Universe

Peridot from Steven Universe, crying and standing in the rain.
Source: http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/steven-universe/images/5/52/Screenshot_2015-10-07_at_06.48.09.png/revision/latest?cb=20151006174846

I think a lot about the characters on Steven Universe. Everyone on the show is damaged in some way and the home world gems are no exception.

I recognize a lot of myself in Peridot. Growing up, she probably often felt like she wasn’t enough. She follows the rules exactly, hoping it will earn her the recognition of those in authority. The authoritarian system on homeworld suggests that she was probably told that as long as she follows orders perfectly, as long as she serves the diamonds just right, that she will earn recognition. She will find fulfilment as a gem. She does everything as she is told, does everything she can to fit in, even though deep down she knows she doesn’t. That something makes her different from everyone around her, even if she doesn’t know what it is.

Other people see her usefulness to them, use her, and then discard her. Because of this, and because of other ways she feels deficient – like her disability (namely her inability to change her shape) – she feels worthless and craves approval. She is hoping that if she is just obedient enough. Follows just the right script, is just useful enough, that she will get noticed. If she gets noticed, she will know that she matters.

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Peridot: A Tiny Angry Slice of Pie

A Solvency Bucket List

I’ve occasionally been challenged to put together a bucket list, but that framing device doesn’t do much for me. My dreams are at once too distant and too quotidian to fit on a “before I die” sort of list. For now, they’re a “when the tide comes in” sort of list: a dream for a future where scrambling for every cent is a distant memory, a plan for when I’m gainfully employed again (for various tiers of “gainfully”), and a promise to my future self.

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A Solvency Bucket List

An Honest Fantasy, a Useful Lie

My parents claim they have an honest relationship with me. I hesitate to say they think so because the claim is so bizarrely impossible that them “thinking” their way into it seems like the real stretch.

Do you think I’ve been honest with you about me, Mom and Dad? Do you really think me knowing I was trans for almost two years before I told you is the aberration, the break from our pattern that signaled a loss of trust? I don’t believe that for a second. I think you twisted and turned your way into this narrative because it let you harp on how I handled my disclosures for a while, instead of having only your own bigotry to lean on as a reason why my being Alyssa instead of [deadname] is a crime against family honor. I think you built this skein in your minds because it was important to you to feel a certain way about your children, and that it has less than nothing to do with me.

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An Honest Fantasy, a Useful Lie