Angling For Myself: A Jane and Jessie Story

Jane lounged in her camping chair, nearly dozing. Her grip on her fishing rod was loose, and she might have lost it already if Froslass hadn’t been keeping an eye on it. She wasn’t losing any fish, at least, on this slowest of fishing days.

She had earned this relaxation. Jane had come a long way, and the crowd of Pokémon surrounding her had borne witness to her progress. Not so long ago, the thought of napping outdoors in shorts, sandals, and a tank top, legs and arms taking in the gentle sun, a thin seam of midriff peeking out between the pieces, would have been terrifying. She feared for her life, then, with Team Rocket still livid over her defection. Before that, she feared herself, and what becoming herself would mean. But now, with Arcanine (“Growly” to her) and Cacturne napping vigilantly behind her, Sylveon curled up at her feet, Froslass and Chimecho on her lap, and Joltik enjoying the view from atop her head, she never felt so free.

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Angling For Myself: A Jane and Jessie Story
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Learn Your Birthfish

Western culture is full of quirky superstitions and traditions. Many of them are leftover bits of former religious practice, retained long after the traditions and beliefs that gave them meaning fell away, while others are more recent inventions designed to convince people to spend money or part of quasi-religious traditions still gaining ground. I have one (las doce uvas de la suerte) I maintain for cultural reasons, and Ania buys unconsecrated Communion host around Christmastime for the same reason. Humans are peculiar creatures, and derive much benefit from activities whose instrumental utility is opaque or absent.

Perhaps the best-known such traditions are horoscopes and birthstones. Both of these connect the date of one’s birth to something in nature (a constellation and a gemstone, respectively), and have been used to generate loads of money for people who convince others that the association has magical or predictive significance. Horoscopes in particular get treated with bizarrely outsized seriousness in some circles, but for many of us, they’re a cute little game.

And why should folks interested in gems and stars have all the cute little games?

So here’s a new one: Your Birthfish. You’re now symbolically linked to this kind of fish, and obligated by the same rules that make people obsess over Gemini and Taurus to tell everyone that you’re now a Chinese high-fin banded loach or pumpkinseed sunfish. May this amusing bit of fake superstition entertain and confuse your friends and family, and lead to some seafood-themed birthday dinners and greater appreciation for the beauty of fish.

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Learn Your Birthfish

Gregorian chant and the Acoustics of Churches

A few years ago my parents took my sister and me to Poland to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. We flew first to Austria where we spent a few days exploring Vienna. It was an interesting trip for me, being the first time travelling to a country where I didn’t have at least a very basic grasp of the language.

In the past I had gone on exchange to live in France, but I spoke French. My parents had taken us to Cuba, and I had an exchange in Spain, and while my Spanish was limited, I knew enough to be able to ask basic questions like where is the bathroom, and how much is it. German however, is completely outside my familiarity, and doesn’t really share many commonalities with any of the other languages I speak.

It was a strange experience, having to rely completely on someone else to translate for me. I had never felt that helpless before and it meant a lot less independence than I am used to while travelling.

Our first night there, we went on a hunt for cheesecake. My father, during my parents’ courtship, had had to go to Vienna for some time. While there, he promised that someday he would take my mother to Vienna and they would have cheesecake together. Afterwards we took a moment to look at the streets of the old city at night.

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Gregorian chant and the Acoustics of Churches

Bathroom Matters

I know almost immediately that it is going to be a bad one. It’s always preceded with this pain that happens just below my tailbone. It’s not pain exactly, but it’s the closest description to the sensation I have. Sometimes, it happens after a fairly severe stomach cramp, sometimes I feel the cramp in my back. I know I don’t have long to find the bathroom.

If I’m at home I just run down the hallway to the bathroom, but if I’m out and about, the search may be more involved. If I’m driving, it means pulling over at the first place that is likely to have a public restroom. Fast food restaurants are the best. They usually have decent bathroom access, and few of them have locks on the door. Sometimes gas stations work, but they’re not always reliable. I pull over and I run inside, and if I have to, I ask to use the restroom.

If I’m not driving, but I am out somewhere, then I run for the nearest public restroom. Chances are I know of several within my vicinity.

I carry a map in my head of where the nearest washroom is, to the best of my ability.

I do this, because I know what it feels like when I don’t find the washroom in time. I know what it feels like to lose bowel control and the feeling of soiling myself. The whole experience is unpleasant. Although the spasms in my bowels prevent me from being able to stop it, it doesn’t mean that it comes without pain. The always sensitive skin of my bum will often burn or sting.

Then there is the burning sensation of embarrassment.

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Bathroom Matters

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

Bit of an Update on Us

It’s been a bit of a rough month. For those following along at home, I went to New York at the end of July to help a friend who was dealing with criminal levels of negligence from her doctors and therapists, which was interfering with her ability to put her life back together. Returning back home, I had a plan for August, to make back some of the money we had lost to the trip by working on promoting my book and art, and looking into additional income streams.

Coming home, I got to work doing just that, only to be met with several unexpected expenses: a flat tire, an unexpected credit card fee that led to a whole bunch of additional charges, and so forth and so forth. At the beginning of summer, I had been hoping to use some of our money to be able to can some of the local produce we get here in Ottawa. Help us eat healthier and more local over the upcoming winter. Instead, we ended up in a situation where we couldn’t really do groceries and so are working off the store of food that we do our best to stockpile when we can.

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Bit of an Update on Us

How to Talk to your Doctor about Digestive Issues

I’ve had a lot of people come up to me and ask how to bring up digestive symptoms with their doctor. It’s easy to have problems dismissed when talking to doctors, especially for those people who are perceived as being female or are female presenting.

I don’t have all the answers. I still have trouble getting taken seriously by some doctors, despite everything that is on record as being wrong with me physically. I do have some suggestions, that I have learned from my own experiences.

Please note, I will make mention of bowel movements and bodily fluids, so please keep that in mind while reading.

  1. Keep track of your symptoms

Questions you are likely to be asked regarding pain:

What type of pain? Where is it? Does it get worse after eating? How long does it last?

Questions you are likely to be asked regarding blood or stool:

What is the consistency (Bristol Stool Chart)? How much blood? Was it dark red? Clotted? Pink and watery? Does your stool contain what looks like coffee grinds?

By having answers ready for these questions, you can move the process along more quickly since the doctors will have a better idea of what they are looking for.

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How to Talk to your Doctor about Digestive Issues

Wherein I Catfish an Irish Chaser Named Niall Corbally

CN ableism in quoted messages

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

Cracking the Closet Door: Covert Transition

The time between one’s first questions about their gender and the resolution thereof can be anxious and scary. Transition is a big deal, and contrary to the bigoted idea that it’s something we do on a lark or for fun, most of us agonize over that decision for a long time, for many reasons. Many of us fear how our social environs would react if they knew we harbored such questions, and especially how they’d react to us deciding to transition. Another lot of us figure out what we’d like to do long before we’re comfortable doing it, and must exist in that dysphoric hinterland until our circumstances free us.

For this in-between group I inhabited for years before I recognized where I was heading, there are options. There are many ways to explore one’s gender or assuage dysphoria until one feels safe acting on it in larger, more visible ways, discreetly and at one’s own pace. What follows is specifically from a transfeminine perspective, but will contain occasional nods to transmasculine variants.

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Cracking the Closet Door: Covert Transition

Seven Reasons J. Lee Grady Doesn’t Convince Me There’s A God

A writer for Charisma News wrote a listicle of reasons he believes in, not just a Christian deity, but the one he specifically gleans from his reading of the Bible. Lists like this come in two forms (scientific “mysteries” and trite emotional manipulation), and this one somehow managed to be both of them, which makes it oddly fascinating to deconstruct.

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Seven Reasons J. Lee Grady Doesn’t Convince Me There’s A God